Complicated pain, One simple question.
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. Heb 11:1. Faith is a choice. We must chose to believe what God says, we cannot trust whether we feel like believing or trust what we see occurring around us. To do so, gives the situation power in our lives, something which we cannot afford if we are to be living scar free lives. As I was working some catastrophic pain in my life, I kept asking God questions. “How is it that it seem like this man who hurt me so deeply and rejected his family is gaining so much of what he wanted and I’m left to pick up the pieces and deal with the back hand slap from life?” As I worked though these emotions I realized I was giving more weight to my emotions, and what they caused me to perceive, than to what God’s word said. God specifically spoke to me through his word. Each time telling me how the sin people chose and its affect on others is painful, but there is peace and joy in the morning for those who persevere through the pain and destruction; devastation for those who commit the sin. Even more so when they have been exposed to the light of God’s truth and willingly chose to reject it. But I did not feel like justice was being served. I wanted justice. I wanted him to hurt like he had willingly and intentionally hurt me, not because of something I did in retaliation, but I wanted the proverbial lightning strike from God, only more painful. My desire for justice is righteous, however, demanding it of God and allowing my desire for justice to rule my emotions and heart are sins. Sins I’m guilty of. I kept searching scripture and coming to the same conclusions of God’s guaranteed justice and favor for the faithful. However, no matter how many times I read it I didn’t feel like God was taking any action. God finally kept me quiet long enough to speak to me and what he revealed to me changed my perspective dramatically. You see, God can tell me about his justice and promise me he’ll never leave me till he’s exhausted all the words in creation. He can tell me time over and over again but until I chose to believe him I will never win the battle against my emotions. I have to accept his words as truth, the only truth. Furthermore I must make his truth my reality. If I did not make that choice, I would never let go of my emotional battle for justice that I was inevitably going to loose. To never let go would create deep emotional scarring that would lead to drowning in self-pity. I could never walk away from the trauma or betrayal unscarred if I chose to give my emotions control over my reality. I would carry those scars my entire life, which would result in me closing off a portion of my heart and soul from God. The spiral down continues from that area of my life. I would be calling myself God because I had ultimate authority ruling. Jesus has told us clearly that we can’t serve more than one God. Initially when we are faced with emotional trauma we are in such a state of shock that we don’t look to far ahead down the roads we take. To give my emotions power is the natural thing to do, but it leaves an opening for the enemy. He prowls like a roaring loin, to pounce and lead me farther down the road I didn’t realize I had even started down. God doesn’t want us to create more pain for ourselves by choosing not to trust him. But it comes down to me. I had to make the choice. Who do I trust? And more so, how much do I trust him. You can’t go half way. If you do, you’re choosing not to trust. You’ll start down the road that leads to self-sufficiency and rather than finding justice, you’ll be justifying yourself. You’ll never be whole. So do I trust what God says, or do I trust what I see around me? It’s so much easier to put stock in what our emotions dictate to us than accept what can’t see. But we must trust it entirely. Accept and trust. Make it your entire reality and hold your emotional state in accountability with it. Only then do we prevent the scars from forming from our wounds. Difficult, but worth it. To release the responsibility of justice to God give us freedom. It allows us to be free of the burden of being judge. Nothing is lost from God’s perspective. You can be sure that he saw each dagger thrown your way, or the daggers you threw. But when we release it into God’s all seeing and capable hands we find forgiveness for our falling short, and a freedom that allows us to move on. We don’t want to be held captive by the pain that we endure, we want to be healed and free from it so we may have hope once again. When we finally let go it is a choice that’s made on a moment-by-moment basis. I wish I could simply release it to God and be finished, but I know myself well and I know my enemy. I will be constantly tempted to take ownership of my pain and responsibility for justice. Times I’ll give into the temptation and I’ll need forgiveness. Our faith will be constantly under testing and our faith must be proven genuine (1 peter 1:7). This takes time and prolonged exposure to the fire. It we could simply chose to trust God once for all and never look back our faith would be completed. But as it is, our faith is constantly growing. In Hebrews 12 it states :
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith. Through him we are able to perfect our faith, we’re not expected to never look back and be tempted to believe what we see rather than what we should know. But we are expected to look at Jesus when the temptation arises to let our emotions dictate our reality. He will perfect our faith. So that we can move on from the pain, move on from the hurt and the sin that so easily entangles us so that we may run the race (Hebrews 12:4). God knew we would endure pain and trauma, so he chose to make it productive. Rather than letting it bury us and create additional distance between us and God, He uses it to perfect our faith and close the gap. Life will deal deathblows to our lives. They can either cripple us or we can allow God to use them to build up endurance so that our faith will grow resulting in us becoming perfect and complete. In James 1 it states:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:2-8
Not only does God give us hope during the disasters life comes with, but he tells us clearly that if we need help, wisdom or understanding he’ll give it to us! We don’t need to rely on our own understanding and wisdom, or lack there of, God give it to us generously (vs. 5) but we must believe. Trust. Accept. Just like we must chose to make his truth our reality. As complicated as life can get, the primary question is simple enough to answer yes or no. Do you trust God enough to make what he says your reality? For many of us the answer is no. We can’t let go of the false security of self-reliance. We are indoctrinated to believe that we must be independent and self sufficient. We’re taught that relying on an outside influence, let alone one we can’t see or control is foolish and a recipe for disaster. To choose to believe God takes us completely turning our back on human wisdom. But the wisdom of man is utter foolishness to God. It’s all about faith. The verse I referenced at the beginning, Hebrews 11:1 is the foundation for living scar-free. Let’s review it, “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you don’t see.” What do you hope for? What in your life is so huge its only God sized? What in your life is so small and precious you hold on to it dearly and won’t let go? Faith is knowing those precious dreams and desires and trusting God to make them happen, in accordance with his will. That is where we get hung up. We could trust God if we would just rely on him to give us what we asked for each time, we can trust predictability. What we don’t realize is that while God is not predictable, he is always faithful. We can rest in total assurance that he will give us everything we need, and our hearts desires when they are what is ultimately best for us. I don’t give my son a dozen cookies just because he wants them, it would make him sick and would be unhealthy. He wants the dozen cookies and can’t understand why I say no. He doesn’t see the bigger picture of sugar, nuritition and health. It’s the same way with God, we can ask all we want but we can rest assured and indeed rest, in the fact that he will only give us what is best for us.
The second part of that verse is “certain of what you don’t see.” What do we not see happening that we are desperate for? What prayers have you been praying that you can’t see being answered? What desires do you have that you can’t see being brought to realization. Faith is the follow through that states “ My God is bigger than what I see at the moment and he is not limited by my circumstances no matter how overwhelming they may be!” Marching onward believing that God will bring into existence what we can’t see is the foundation for that verse. Choosing God’s power to influence your perspective rather than letting what you see determine your reality. We are called to a higher reality, but choosing that reality is necessary for faith. In that short verse lies the foundation for everything we will be discussing. Faith will be the only reality we are called to live in, because outside of faith God is limited, but when we live in faith the power of God in our lives becomes more unlimited than we dare imagine.